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Technical removing heads for a beginner

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Cuddles Two, Mar 18, 2021.

  1. I have never removed heads. Last year I removed my intake manifold and installed a new Edelbrock manifold. I have since discovered I have to have a burnt valve repaired so I have to remove my head. Might as well do both but I have never removed a head. Is there a youtube video or a step by step guide on how to remove the heads on a 66 289 ? Thank you.
  2. Ice man
    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 984

    Ice man

    Yea, just start by draining the cooling system, then the intake manifold, valve covers, rockers and pushrods, exhaust manifolds and any thing attached to the heads. Your gonna do BOTH heads, so get to it. Its not heard to do, get your hands dirty. Iceman
  3. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,767


    I’ll add one thing I do on Chevys, may or may not be needed on a Ford, but after the coolant is drained I take the TStat housing off and stick my shop vac in the hole to get the residual coolant.

    Heck, you’ve done part of the job changing the intake, just carry on!
    I’m not sure of your rocker assembly, so can’t comment there.

    Maybe a manual is in your immediate future to see all your up against?
    Atwater Mike and Bob Lowry like this.
  4. I have no experience with Fords but I have heard that Ford (possibly specifically SB Ford) head gaskets can be installed incorrectly, causing overheating issues. Something about one facing up and one facing down as opposed to both facing up. Maybe something about a blocked passage.

    How do you know you have a burned valve?

    As budget said, get a manual or book. I would get a "How to Rebuild Your Small Ford" type book. I have had one for years for a SBC that I always refer back to. Definitely get a book.

    small Ford.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021

  5. onetrickpony
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 518

    from Texas

    A Ford 289 and all other small block Fords have a front and back to the head gasket. Make sure they are installed correctly or you will have overheating problems. Look on the gasket for the word "Front" and put it to the front of the engine. The gaskets will look different from side to side when installed correctly. If you have the same side facing up on both gaskets, one of them is on wrong.
    Deuces and squirrel like this.
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,308


    Taking it apart is the easy thing...getting it back together, with the gaskets installed properly, bolts tightened properly, valves adjusted properly, ignition set as it should be, plug wires in the correct place, throttle linkage adjusted, hose clamps properly tightened, etc. is the tricky part. But you can do it, just take your time, take lots of pictures before you take it apart, get a manual, and don't believe everything you see on youtube.
    Mark Yac, mctim64, mgtstumpy and 6 others like this.
  7. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 20,571

    from Michigan

    Use your cell phone to take pictures while you disassemble the top end... That way you know where everything goes back on....;)
  8. harpo1313
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 2,257

    from wareham,ma

    And be sure all the gear gets put back where it was. lay out all the drivetrain on some cardboard get your sharpie out and lay it all out in order.
    Guy Patterson and Deuces like this.
  9. Thank you all. I will see if I can get that book. The gasket tip is exactly the kind of thing I need to know. Tips like "Just do it" isn't much of a help. I know there is a problem with #4 cylinder because if I mist water on the header, it takes a while to evaporate, the rest evaporate immediately. I have learned to take photos but not all of us have smart phones. I think it makes a difference when replacing push rods ( I think that is the long stems I take out ) where they go. If a rod comes out of a particular spot, it must be returned to the same spot with the same ends up and down. This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to get clarified here. No such luck yet but thanks for what did help.
    Deuces likes this.
  10. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,308


    The moving parts (pushrods and rocker arms) like to go back where they were, but will probably be OK if you mix them up. The lifters, which are at the bottom end of the pushrods, and which you probably won't have to remove, are vital that they be returned to their original position.

    Also...there are several things that could make a cylinder be low on power. A burned valve is only one of them. I like to do a bit more testing first, to see if I can make sure what the problem is, before I start taking things apart. I'd do a compression test first, and also observe the rocker arms to make sure they're all moving the same amount. I'll assume you've already taken out the spark plugs to inspect them? If one is fouled (covered with black stuff so it won't be able to fire), it will give similar symptoms.
    F-ONE and jaracer like this.
  11. The book mentioned above is available as a download, through some of the sites that offer pdf's in their membership format.
    When taking apart, and putting back together, just stay organized, don't throw everything into a can or box.
    Guy Patterson likes this.
  12. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 20,571

    from Michigan

    Hope you got a good "click" type torque wrench.... Your gonna need it.....;)
  13. garyf
    Joined: Aug 11, 2006
    Posts: 241


    Making dowl or guide pins out of 5/16 course threaded rod make installing the intake and keeping the gasket in place a lot easier .Change the oil and filter before you start the engine when all work is complete,
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
    48fordnut and Deuces like this.
  14. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,828

    from Alabama

    The first and best lesson you can learn is not taking and engine apart, when you do not have to.
    Do not assume...(Let the engine tell you through multiple checks.)
    Go through the "minor procedures" before you start on "major procedures"

    I actually prefer Tom Monroe's book. What I like about his book is he shows "real world" checks and gives "real world advice". He gives all the specs and tech info but also tells you how to check things by feel.
    As Squirrel mentioned, you need to do some more tests. All that tells you is water does not evaporate quickly off of #4.
    Read the spark plug, is it fouled, washed, oily? There are online charts showing plug condition and possible causes...

    Do a compression check. You have to pull all the plugs and have a hot battery. Ask questions on how to do this...research the proper way. A basic check will tell you a lot.

    It "could be"...
    a fouled plug
    bad plug wire
    bad distributor cap
    crossed plug wires
    valve out of adjustment (lash too tight or too loose)
    pressed rocker stud coming loose
    broken/worn piston rings or broken piston
    blown head gasket
    worn cam lobe...

    A compression check will give you a lot more clues.....
    This could be something very simple.
    Do a compression check and report the results....

    1966 is a transition from standard rockers to rail rockers. SBF rockers were "adjustable" until the later 70s when Ford went to the fulcrum type rocker. The fulcrum rockers were in a "rail" so many confuse these with earlier "rail" rockers...
    ^^^^Rail Rocker
    ^^^^standard early non rail rockers
    ^^^^^ 1970s and later fulcrum rockers (truly non adjustable....push rod adjust only)...
    Unique Rustorations likes this.
  15. 283john
    Joined: Nov 17, 2008
    Posts: 822


    Do not remove the head if your car has a manual transmission and you have it "parked" in-gear on the side of a hill.
  16. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,999

    from Brooks Ky

    Since this will be your first time.............
    I suggest you geta couple saw horses and a piece of plywood to set next to your project. The plywood will make a nice surface to set everything on as you remove it. Place each component on the table in reference to where it came off the car. Kinda like an "exploded view" of what you are doing. You should not have to remove your valve lifters. If you do decide to remove them to check the lobes on the cam and the lifters themselves, they have to be returned to the exact same hole you took each of them out of. Cam lobes wear in to the lifters when they are broken in, and they must stay with the same lobe. Anyway, once you have all the components sitting in an orderly manner on the plywood, you won't forget where they go or miss installing something. Its really pretty easy to reassemble the heads to the engine but keeping the parts in order will help when some bolts are different lengths or other small questions arise. Having the parts organized will help you a whole lot on your first go round.;)
    dirt t and harpo1313 like this.
  17. Thank you again everyone. I did a compression test and all cylinders except number four were fine. It was consistent but low. It is an auto transmission. Plugs are fine. I will take the heads to a guy who specializes in that. I have a nice clean welding table set up beside my ride. hat's how I did the intake manifold last year so thank you for suggesting the table. And thanks to all who contributed. I wish there was a video but I guess the books will suffice. I am learning. Slow but I am learning.
  18. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,905

    from Oregon

  19. 210superair
    Joined: Jun 23, 2020
    Posts: 797

    from Michigan

    While I wouldn't believe everything on yt, as squirrel said, it can also be an invaluable resource for a new job, so nor would I discount it. It's helped me do a strange job more than once....

    Pulling heads was one of the first things I did as a boat mechanic, I think you'll find it not that difficult, and I'm far from a pro. Take your time, if you get worried, the guys in here will help you out. They're an incredible resource of knowledge.
    Guy Patterson and Deuces like this.
  20. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 3,396

    from illinois

    To keep from dropping small parts / tools / debris into places where its hard to retrieve , cover those openings with shop rags ,I.e. distributor hole ,stuff a rag in it , valley , lay rags in it ,etc..if you don't haves a parts washer , a cheap plastic storage box works to wash parts , open the block drains to get the coolant drained from the engine , a compression taste won't tell you if its a bad valve or rings a leak down test will , unhook the exhaust pipes from the manifolds before you start .
  21. I've found that using a pizza box( or similar) to organize various bolts can save lottsa time remembering where they go, and in what order ( see sample photo) don't hesitate to make notes to your self[​IMG] *( The saw horse/ plywood -moveable work bench is a great idea !!)
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
    WilliD, plan9, foolthrottle and 3 others like this.
  22. SilverJimmy
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 277


    When I was in high school I worked at the local corner gas station and they had the back room that did simple repairs. Customer brought in a Chevy truck that had a blown head gasket. Old mechanic told his “apprentice” to pull the intake and head off while he finished another car up, but don’t pull the exhaust manifold cuz you don’t need too and that’s one of the tricks to beat book time. So the kid gets everything unbolted but the head won’t budge, so the mechanic told him to stick a large pry bar into a intake port and “pop” it off the gasket by prying up. The kid was trying to do a good job, he just didn’t see the lower row of head bolts hidden from sight by the exhaust manifold. Finally the head came free, well, most of it came off! NO, I wasn’t the kid, but I did learn to always look for hidden fasteners or anything else not obvious when working on anything.
    BoilermakerDave and rbrewer like this.
  23. Tow Truck Tom
    Joined: Jul 3, 2018
    Posts: 141

    Tow Truck Tom
    from Clayton DE

    Pizza box is good or any corrugated large enough use it for push rods also. ( as Squirrel said might not matter but need to be certain that #4 isn't mix in with others ) Mark cardboard front or drivers side or such.

    Do not forget to cover the fenders with maybe a blanket etc.
  24. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,828

    from Alabama

    Before I pulled the heads, I would do a wet test on #4. A wet test is simply squirting oil in that cylinder, then testing it again. If the pressure is significantly higher, this is a sign of worn rings.
    I would also do a running valve lash adjustment on #4, back off and then retighten to see if this makes any difference.
    You can do a running valve lash adjustment on the earlier '60s rockers.
    After the lash adjustment see if the compression goes up.

    Change the oil and look for aluminum. It's really a good idea to pour it through a t shirt. 1960s SBFs are known for piston failure. It's real common for the piston skirts to crack and fail on higher mileage engines. It's common for #1 and #5 to show the most wear followed by # 4 and #8.
    Guy Patterson likes this.
  25. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,654

    Atwater Mike

    Ditto on the work table...
    I still use it, lay everything out to be inspected. Yeah, inspected.
    Customers/acquaintances/friends/other shop owners have asked me after doing a job "What did I miss?"
    (I always think, "What indeed?") Easy to tear it apart, drop things, clean 'em and re-assemble.
    But did something important (miniscule!) get ignored?
    Second look at everything, (Sure, there'll be time to tear it apart again...LOL) Avoid it.
  26. I take a small cardboard box and punch 16 holes in it to put the push rods in to keep them in order and right end for end. You will usually get some coolant in the cylinders even after draining the engine, but paper towels will soak it up easily. Apply a light coat of WD40 on the cylinders if the heads are going to be off a few days. As said, pay close attention to the head gaskets. They are marked FORWARD on one end. One side will have that up, the other down when installed correctly. Tom Monroe's book is a must have for SBF guys.
  27. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,535


    Or a beam type. The clicker type go out of adjustment, the beams are usually accurate unless someone has abused them.

    And make sure you take the rags out before you reassemble. Yes, it happens.
  28. I will follow these instructions to the letter guys. Thank you. I knew there was something about a cardboard box for the rods I'd seen somewhere. I have both type of torque wrench. I couldn't work without my welding table by the rod to keep all the stuff on. I'll check for rags before closing. WD40 idea is nice and the info from F-one I will confer with my friend who is far more knowledgeable than I in such things. Thank you one and all. So much to learn. The video was a great help too.
    Deuces likes this.
  29. RodStRace
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 2,613


    One other thing to watch for when disassembling that is SBF specific is when you remove the distributor (you did bring the engine to TDC and note location of rotor, right?). On a LOT of rebuilt engines, the oil pump driveshaft may not stay in the block. It can be pulled up with the dist. then fall into the engine. This sucks!

    Also double check firing order before removal. It should be vintage 15426378, but may be 13726548. This will be a pain to diagnose when reassembled. Ford numbers the cylinders 1-4 passenger side, 5-8 driver side.

    Block drains on each side will help get more coolant out so when the heads are removed, less will spill out. However, they are often hard/impossible to remove. Proceed with caution.

    Here is installing the dist. with proper timing and firing order, in case you blew it and didn't set it up and document it when removing parts.

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